Brookover, in her article “Why we blog” says “well-promoted blogs can help reach community members who might not think of the library first when faced with an information need” and “blogging has empowered librarians to talk to their users more directly and to develop further the user-library relationship”. I checked a few academic library blogs, at random. Some are limited to their staff and students. Others have no comments. So this user-library relationship is pretty much one-way, it seems. Nevertheless, I have come across an interesting idea. Medicine Hat College has a Library user of the month . The winner writes a paragraph or two about their experience. Up to 30 min. a day blogging! If we blogged at work, this would need to be a shared/rostered responsibility. Maybe I need to investigate a Facebook fan page instead. There could be more user-library interactions there, compared to a blog.
The part I like most in Andy Burkhardt’s article “Four reasons libraries should be on social media“ is about understanding users better. Social media is another way of having conversations with our users. Those conversations may offers insights into serving them better.
In her blog post “The essence of Library 2.0?“ Meredith Farkas stresses the importance of assessing what our users need and want before implementing Library 2.0 technologies. All Libraries needs to respond to the need of their own users. What is happening at Library X may not be appropriate for Library Y or Z. It has always been like this. So I agree with Meredith, but only to a certain extent. I know Meredith would be horrified but we do not run formal surveys. We have not got the time. We are busy enough already dealing with our current workload. We are part of a network where decisions are based on needs or felt needs of a much larger cohort of clients, over a much larger geographic area. Even if we surveyed, we would be unlikely to meet the needs of all our clients anyway. Our approach is to follow trends, to offer services, implement Library 2.0 features our clients have come to expect. Our manager often refers to “If you build it, he will come”, the popular quote from the movie “Field of Dreams“. It will be interesting to see what happens if and when we set up, for example, a Facebook fan page. In terms of the human resources and time available, I really think our best investment at the moment is to develop a series of online tutorials, a series of “How to…” resources. Ideally, I would like to explore a few learning technologies as I develop some of those.
Don’t get me wrong, we are interested in hearing from our users. In each of our LibGuides, we provide a suggestion box and invite them to share useful websites. Our users can suggest a purchase via our Library catalogue. Users can use our Instant Messaging facility via each of our LibGuides. Finally, they can also have their say, in general.
In response the articles on social networking trends for libraries in 2009 and 2010 by Anna Laura, our Library does not have a Facebook page but our institute does. We do, from time to time, post there. The latest is our Library and Information Week event. Our LIMS vendor had developed a widget to search the catalogue. We have included Meebo Instant Messaging in our LibGuides (see image).
With regard to e-books, we are looking into EBL as a consortium for the TAFE Queensland Library Network. Our catalogue can be searched from mobile devices. Our Library intends to develop a range of tutorials using online learning technologies including podcasting and screencasting. Our Library does not have a blog. Instead, I have suggested we investigate developing a Facebook fan page. My manager has added social networking to my performance plan (see image) .
I think it is fair to say that, given the resources we have, we are making a very good effort in participating in a range of social networking activities relevant to our field.